Good ol’ Montauk, NY. A quaint drinking village with a fishing problem. Winter population of a few thousand or less. Summer population around tens of thousands or more. The ebbs and flows of the population growth have been fluctuating since the days of Carl Fisher in the 1930s. What has been consistent during the decades since has been the hardworking, blue-collar commercial fishing community.
Many have been attracted to Montauk because of the benefits this industry can provide, but it’s not for the faint of heart or anyone that lacks perseverance. I was recently fortunate enough to have a few of the local commercial fisherman allow me on their boats and tell me a few stories about their times on the sea. Before you jump, I’d like to say thank you to the men and women of the Montauk commercial fishing industry and the families that support them.
Peter Hewitt | F/V Old Squaw
GM: How long have you been a commercial fisherman?
PH: Since 1968.
GM: What made you become a commercial fisherman?
PH: Lack of money [laughs]. The Pottz brothers really taught me how to fish. I thought I knew how to fish ’til I fished with them.
GM: What do you like the most about commercial fishing—your favorite story or memory?
PH: Harpooning two swordfish and a giant 800 lb tuna with the Pottz brothers. That was a big adrenaline rush.
GM: What is your scariest moment while out at sea fishing?
PH: Almost getting run over by a Canadian warship. I was looking up and I could see the sailors hats with the funny little tail on the back, and I heard them talking with an accent. The side of the ship was going right by my face.
GM: What one thing should the everyday person should know about commercial fishing?
PH: It is something that everyone knows…commercial fishing is very dangerous. If you don’t watch your Ps and Qs you can lose a finger or a hand or your life. You have to be on top of your game, you can’t be doing drugs, be drunk, or hungover. You have to go out there with a clear mind and a good attitude.